The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Big Footprints Project, Make Music Philly, Light Heat)


Photo by Nina Sabatino
Photo by Nina Sabatino

The Dead Milkmen continue their sudden streak of new recordings with Welcome to Undertown [link]

Light Heat recorded a psych-rock Key Studio Session with some help from members of The Walkmen and Fleet Foxes [link]

Local musicians give back to the community with Modern Baseball-frontman Brendan Lukens’ new label Big Footprints Project [link]

Balto and Holly Williams turn in a pair of great live sessions for Folkadelphia [link and link]

Get to know Sylvia Platypus, Vikesh Kapoor and more in our Make Music Philly Spotlight [link]

Stream Rosu Lup‘s new Currents EP ahead of their record release show at The Fire on July 13th [link]

Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit announced a fall show at the Electric Factory on October 27th [link]

The Key highlights the Firefly Festival undercard with The Key’s week-long Firefly Under the Radar feature [link]

Third Thursdays Live and Local kicks off tomorrow night at Race Street Pier with Dice Raw, Lushlife and more [link]

Stephen Marley remixes his father’s “Three Little Birds” for a new collaborative release in the latest installment of XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week [link]

Check out recaps and reviews of this week’s live concerts, including The Postal Service and Junip [link]

Catnaps say goodbye with a new EP called Forget About It [link]


The Key Studio Sessions: Light Heat

All photos by Abi Reimold |

Philly psychedelic rock outfit Light Heat popped up unexpectedly last summer, but they certainly didn’t come out of nowhere. Frontman and songwriter Quentin Stoltzfus is a longtime player in the local scene (and beyond); his knockout band Mazarin released a string of stellar albums in the early 00s, and before that he was in the dreamy 90s outfit Azusa Plane – back when “Psychedelphia” was the buzzword du jour. Stoltzfus is well-traveled in the musical world, and it was a thrill to have him in our studio recording a Key Session of all-new songs that hold up so strongly to his past work. It was equally a thrill to work with the players he brought along – in addition to longtime collaborators Mickey Walker and Drew Mills (formerly of Blood Feathers), this lineup of Light Heat included Peter Bauer (of The Walkmen) and Skyler Skjelset (of Fleet Foxes). The band’s self-titled album is out next Tuesday on Brooklyn label Ribbon Music – and is streaming now via The New York Times – and it opens a sold-out show with Tame Impala at The Electric Factory tonight, then headlines an album release party presented by Philebrity at AKA Music next Tuesday, June 25th.


Light Heat’s new album now streaming at The New York Times website (appearing on XPN Philly Local tonight)

LightHeatLight Heat‘s self-titled debut is due out on June 25th via Ribbon Music, but if you’re itching to hear it now, the album is now available to stream at The New York Times website. The local psych-rockers will be in town for two up-coming shows, supporting Tame Impala at the Electric Factory on June 19th, as well performing a free in-store concert at AKA Music on June 25th. In addition to that, Light Heat is this week’s Key Studio Session guest, so be sure to tune in to WXPN tonight at 9:30 to hear their performance and check back to the blog tomorrow morning to get a download of it.. Listen to the New York Times stream here.



Watch Light Heat’s new music video for “And the Birds…” (playing Electric Factory and AKA this month)

Light Heat

Light Heat are gearing up to release their self-titled debut album on June 25th, play AKA Music in support of it and play the Electric Factory with Tame Impala June 19th.  In the meantime, they just released a music video for the album’s title track, “And The Birds…”  The catchy folk-rock tune drifts along at a bright midtempo pace with a breezy video to match. Hazy images pass by in flashes of rainbow colors through a vintage filter.  The two fit together perfectly and definitely make the wait for what’s sure to be an amazing debut a little easier.  Check out the video below.


Just Announced: Light Heat opening for Tame Impala at The Electric Factory on 6/19

LightHeatPhilly’s Light Heat – the new project of Philly psych mastermind Quentin Stoltzfus – is gearing up to release its self-titled debut LP on Brooklyn imprint Ribbon Music. The band recorded a Key Studio Session last month (we’ll bring it to you next week) and plays an party at Old City’s AKA Music on release day, June 25th. Equally (possibly more) exciting is that Light Heat was just added as an opener at Tame Impala’s show at The Electric Factory on June 19th. Tickets and information on the show can be found here. Below, watch a rehearsal session last year that the band filmed for BITBY.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Light Heat at Johnny Brenda’s, Pat Martino Trio at Sellersville Theater, Hallelujah The Hills at Kennett Flash


Light Heat, the latest project of Quentin Stoltzfus, sounds the way its name suggests. The track “And the Birds,” which streams on the Light Heat website, is warm and delicately ornamented with piano notes.  “The Mirror” has been described by Spin as a “simmering slow-burner.”  A few months ago, we posted Light Heat’s “Elevation” recording for Bands in the Backyard and it was clear, even then, that Stolzfus’ new project was something to keep an eye on.  A Light Heat album isn’t due out until June, but tonight Light Heat will perform at Johnny Brenda’s, offering a few more gorgeous songs than what’s currently available for streaming.  Tickets and information for the 21+ show are available here.  Below, listen to Light Heat’s “The Mirror.”

Continue reading →


Light Heat is releasing its debut LP this summer, headlining Johnny Brenda’s this Saturday

LightHeatSince he sprung back into action last summer, it’s been inspiring to watch Quentin Stoltzfus make moves with his new band Light Heat. Since last summer, the former leader of Philly psych heroes Mazarin has teased us with one-off singles and live appearances at varied venues like Center City’s Fleisher-Ollman Art Gallery to Underground Arts. This Saturday, the band headlines Johnny Brenda’s with Steve Gunn and Spacin’, and today the band announced details on its self-titled debut album, due out on June 25th on Ribbon Music. The ten-track album was recorded with Stoltzfus’ band – which features Drew Mills of Blood Feathers, Mickey Walker of Mazarin, Sam Cohen of Apollo Sunshine – and also featrues contributions for pretty much all the guys in The Walkmen minus Hamilton Leithauser. The band premiered a new track called “The Mirror” at today – listen to it below.


Watch: Bands in the Backyard sits in on a Light Heat rehearsal with with guest players Peter Bauer of The Walkmen and Skye Skjelset of Fleet Foxes

This is sweet – the Bands in the Backyard crew got to sit in on a Light Heat rehearsal in preparation for some dates the band has coming up in New York (January 12 at The Cake Shop) Philly (February 23rd at Johnny Brenda’s). Joining them are guest players Peter Bauer of The Walkmen on keys and Skye Skjelset of Fleet Foxes on guitar, and they’re rocking out to an as-yet unreleased jam from the pen of Light Heat mastermind Quentin Stoltzfus. Check it out below, find out more about the Johnny Brenda’s date at WXPN’s Concert Calendar.


Get spacey with Light Heat and Steve Gunn at Johnny Brenda’s on 2/23

The bill for Johnny Brenda’s February 23rd show is a deep one, with three local mind-melting acts taking the stage to quite literally blow us away.  First up we’ve got Spacin’, a new jammy fuzz-rock band in the vein of a marginally restrained Birds of Maya (which makes sense since it’s the project of Birds’ Jason Killinger).  Spacin’ might be considered a good entry into the world of Philly lo-fi power rock (Purling Hiss included), with their superfuzz served-up next to a side of accessible melodies and in significantly shorter bursts than Birds of Maya’s cornerstone Ready to Howl LP.

Next on the docket is Steve Gunn, a Philly native who is often mentioned in the same breath as John Fahey, Jack Rose and Michael Chapman. Where Spacin’ melts with amps and noise, Gunn takes a stripped back (though still totally blissed-out) approach with intricate acoustic guitar compositions that weave together the schools of Indian Raga and American Primitivism (checkout the epic “The Lurker (Extended)” to get a sense of what this guy can do with six strings).  Gunn’s most recent solo release is 2009’s Boerum Palace, but he also works prolifically with drummer John Truscinski as a duo and released the well-received Ocean Parkway earlier this year.

Finally, we’ve got psych-rock extraordinaire Quentin Stoltzfus with a new post-Mazarin project called Light Heat.  Featuring Mickey Walker (Mazarin), Sam Cohen (Yellowbirds / Apollo Sunshine) and Drew Mills (Aspera / Blood Feathers), Light Heat are the psychedelic kaleidoscope projected on the ceiling of a Julian Casablancas basement party.  We’ve heard a few samples from the band, including the strummy “And the Birds” and “Elevation,” as filmed by Bands in the Backyard.

Tickets for the 21+ show are available here.  Check out videos of the bands below and get more information from the event page here. Continue reading →


What will a new My Bloody Valentine album sound like, anyway? (plus: listen to MBV-influenced Philly musicians)

A big bomb dropped this morning for fans of loud amplifiers, effects pedals and that hypnotic musical genre known as shoegaze. Kevin Shields, singer and guitarist for My Bloody Valentine, told long-standing UK music news source NME that his band will release a new album by year’s end. The as-yet-untitled work would be available through Shields’ website, and would be followed up by an EP of even newer material.

This news is nothing short of staggering, considering that MBV’s last recorded work was the landmark record Loveless, released some 21 years ago back in November of 1991. Its blend of dissonance and agression with beauty and tranquility had no major parallels at the time, but went on to influence countless artists in the subsequent decades. You could hear the echo of Loveless in 90s acts like The Verve and Mazzy Star as well as 21st century rock demagogues Radiohead, all the way down to smaller-profile artists like Japancakes (who covered the album in its entirety in 2007), Black Angels and currently buzzing Baltimore outfit Secret Mountains.

So the question is – what is the band’s first album in 21 years going to sound like, anyway? Shields told NME that the engineers and musicians who have heard the record, which has been in the works since sometime the 90s, find it to be more far-out than Loveless. He doesn’t agree, however.

So does that mean it will merely be Loveless II? One would think that a band wouldn’t release its first album in 21 years unless it had something new to say / do, right? Even a bad My Bloody Valentine record would rule pretty hard…but what if the unthinkable happens and it is bad? Could it tarnish the legacy of Loveless? Are you excited or afraid to listen?

Ponder these questions, and let us know what you think in the comments below. And while you do that, check out an assortment of artists from our own local music community here in Philly that, one way or another, have drawn influence from My Bloody Valentine. Continue reading →